Contractor asks court to order DPS to pay $25.1M

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — – A contractor still is waiting for Detroit Public Schools to honor a judgment ordering the district to pay more than $23 million in outstanding invoices, plus $2 million in interest, according to a federal complaint filed Wednesday.

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by Sodexo Management Inc., DPS filed a counterclaim against the company last September.

The district hired Sodexo in January 2011 to provide custodial, building repair, maintenance, engineering and grounds services through seven subcontractors. The five-year contract called for the company to be paid $43.5 million.

At the time, officials in the deficit-plagued district said the largest outsourcing taken to restructure DPS would save DPS $75 million in the move to Sodexo.

In its complaint, Sodexho says DPS delayed and missed payments, leading to a payment agreement in July 2013 that called for arbitration to settle any disputes. The suit says the company sought arbitration in May 2014 “following unsuccessful negotiations and fruitless attempts to obtain past due payments from DPS.”

DPS filed a response to the arbitration request in July 2014 and an amended answer and counterclaim two months later.

The suit says the arbitrator, retired Judge Valdemar Washington of Genesee County Circuit Court, entered an interim partial award Feb. 9 ordering DPS to pay $25.1 million.

In a statement Wednesday, DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said the district continues to contest Sodexo’s claims.

“The matter between Detroit Public Schools and Sodexo is still in arbitration, and the district has a number of counterclaims that are still pending against Sodexo,” she said. “Additionally, there is no order for immediate payment because of our counterclaims.”

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